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The Southwest companion pass has been a holy grail of sorts for many domestic travelers. It essentially gives you a 2-for-1 deal on every single award flight you take, letting you take your +1 along for free and effectively doubling the value of your points. But now that Southwest has killed one of the easiest ways to get the companion pass (SEE: No more hotel points transfer to earn Southwest Companion Pass!), can you still easily get the Southwest companion pass in 2017?
Southwest’s new language regarding the companion pass states:
“A Member who earns 110,000 Companion Pass Qualifying Points or who flies 100 qualifying one-way flights booked through Southwest Airlines per calendar year will qualify for Companion Pass. Companion Pass Qualifying Points are earned from revenue flights booked through Southwest Airlines, points earned on Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Credit Cards, and base points earned from Rapid Rewards Partners. Purchased points, transferred points transferred between members, points converted from hotel and car loyalty programs, and e-Rewards, e-Miles, Valued Opinions and Diners Club, points earned from program enrollment, tier bonus points, flight bonus points, and partner bonus points (with the exception of the Rapid Rewards Credit Cards from Chase) do not qualify as Companion Pass Qualifying Points.”
So there you have it. It looks like the door is still open for credit card points to earn you the companion pass. While not as easy as converting hotel points (especially via a Marriott travel package), the best way to get the companion pass will be via their co-branded Chase cards. Here are 3 options for getting the Southwest companion pass in 2017, two of which leverage the Southwest credit cards:
- Sign up for two of the cards in a short timeframe – This is hands down the quickest method to get the Southwest Companion Pass in 2017. The main hurdle, however, is that the Southwest cards are subject to Chase’s 5/24 “rule”. If you are fortunate enough to be below 5 new accounts in the past 24 months, and you really want that companion pass, applying for 2 Southwest cards is your best option. If you can catch both the Southwest Premier and Plus card (or maybe a business card) with a 50,000 point sign-up bonus, you’ll only need to spend $10,000 to hit the 110k mark for the companion pass.
- Put your reselling or MS efforts on your Southwest card – While the overall return may not be as high as using other cards, the doubling effect of the companion pass could still make it worth the effort. Granted, you’ll have to accrue 110k RapidRewards points in a year, which means $110,000 in spending, and this may be an overly large hurdle for many in the MS or reselling game. But not for all. Some in the PWAC slack channel are ready for the challenge.
- Book rental cars and hotel stays through Southwest – This is a last ditch effort in my opinion. According to Southwest’s updated terms, base points earned from Southwest partners still count toward getting the Southwest Companion Pass in 2017. Their partners include several rental car companies and hotel chains, and if you rent a lot for work and/or are willing to forgo any points you would normally earn from booking directly with these companies, it may be worth it. Remember that only base points earned count, and not points transferred from hotel or car loyalty programs. You’ll have to select Southwest as your loyalty program for crediting your rentals/stays.
You could also get the Southwest Companion Pass in 2017 through any combination of these three. Bottom line: the pass is still attainable via other routes besides flying 100 Southwest flights. A bit harder, maybe, but still attainable. Personally, I will likely pass it up this year. I had completely planned to transfer my SPG points to Marriott and then book a 7 night travel package to earn the pass later this month. I may still go the MS/reselling route, but I am more likely to focus my efforts elsewhere.
Do you think you’ll still earn the Southwest companion pass in 2017 via any of these methods?